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Putting Evidence to Work: Popular Opinion Leader

Putting Evidence to Work: Popular Opinion Leader

By ETR | January 17, 2015

I want to change your mind. Correct a misperception. Support you in changing a behavior. I want to talk to you about something that is so important, your life depends on it.


Who do I need to be? Whom are you going to listen to? Who is going to be able to save your life?


Some interesting research on a behavioral intervention strategy called Popular Opinion Leader says that in communities at high risk for HIV, the people who can change hearts and minds are out there. And prevention programs can enlist their help in changing risk behaviors in their communities.

We Like the Evidence!

In an evidence-based intervention endorsed and supported by the CDC, popular and well-liked opinion leaders in communities of men who have sex with men (MSM’s) agree to meet regularly with peers and engage in casual conversations about HIV prevention. They talk about what’s true, what the myths are and the importance of reducing risk. They describe the strategies they are using personally to stay healthy.

Men who are trained as Popular Opinion Leaders agree to do two things: (1) have at least 14 of these conversations; and (2) recruit someone else to be a Popular Opinion Leader. As subsequent waves of leaders move through the community having these conversations, risks are reduced.

In the research study using this strategy, it worked. Condom used increased, numbers of sex partners decreased, and unprotected anal sex decreased.

ETR’s Community Impact Solutions (CIS) team offers trainings on the Popular Opinion Leader intervention. Team member Alex Williams recently did a video for us describing community level prevention interventions and the Popular Opinion Leader intervention. Check it out, and contact CIS if you’re interested in learning more about their trainings.


Good stuff! We love working with the evidence!

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